As a fairly recent DS owner, I’d not experienced any of the Cooking Mama games previous to this one, so can’t comment on how they compare. However, having played the game, I can appreciate why the franchise has appealed to such a wide variety of people.
For those who aren’t familiar with the game, you must basically work your way through a series of recipes, using the stylus to chop, stir, simmer, toss and do all manner of things to ingredients in order to make a meal. The learning curve is gentle, and casual gamers, in particular, will have no problems picking this up.
Cooking Mama 3 features six gameplay modes:
Let’s Cook: This is the most fun and relaxing mode, which means that even if you make a mistake Mama will help you out.
Let’s Eat: Much tougher, this mode is for the more advanced chefs amongst us. If you go wrong, you’re likely to fail. Judges will try out your creations and give points based on how they taste.
Combine and Create: This mode is for nothing short of an expert. Here you’re expected to create your own recipes from ingredients and cooking techniques you’ve used before.
Let’s Shop: Here you’ll head to the shops to pick up what you need for your yummy recipes!
Time Challenge: Play against up to three friends using Wi-fi play. Take part in timed cooking challenges to determine who is the fastest chef!
Picture Diary: Keep a scrapbook of your favourite dishes in this digital picture diary.
This game works well on the DS. The stylus is implemented well and feels natural to use, probably more so for people who cook in real life! I found myself playing the Let’s Cook mode more than anything , simply because it’s more fun. You still get the sense of achievement of completing something, even if you didn’t do it perfectly.
I felt the other modes were either too tough, particularly for younger players, or surplus to requirements. The Let’s Shop mode, in particular, was just a silly add-on which I didn’t feel added anything to the game at all.
The Picture Diary is something that I think will only really appeal to younger players. I can’t see adults being interested in this element, particularly as they’re more likely to want to pick the game up for five or ten minutes and then put it down again.
Overall, Cooking Mama 3 is average. Because it’s trying to appeal to such a wide variety of people, I think it slightly loses its focus. As a purely casual gamer, I didn’t want the gameplay to be too difficult, and I was happy just to play through a couple of recipes, then go off and do something else. For this reason, I stuck to the Let’s Cook mode, which kept me mildly entertained. I guess younger players will invest more time in the game and so will more fully explore all the modes, but unless you’re in a household where several of you will share this game, I’d wait until it hits the sale.
Cooking Mama 3 is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.